NFL notes from June
By Eric Wilkins, Sports Editor
As the NFL off-season drags along—every fan blowing their team’s chances for the Super Bowl out of proportion—real stories are hard to come by; but that’s not to say there aren’t any. Rookies are adapting to their new pro systems as previous unknown injuries surface, coaches are creating fake competition, and the Jimmy Graham “What is he?” saga continues.
Detractors of physical freak Jadeveon Clowney constantly pointed to his less-than-stellar stats in his final season at South Carolina in attempting to knock down his draft stock, but it appears there may have been more to it than just defences game-planning against him. The 6’5” Houston Texans pick underwent surgery for a sports hernia injury a few weeks ago, and it was recently revealed that he played through that injury during the year. Clowney reportedly thought that it was just a groin issue. The convert to linebacker is unsure if he’ll be ready for the start of training camp.
Zac Stacy put up an incredible season for the St. Louis Rams last year, recording just short of 1,000 yards in his rookie campaign while only playing in 12 games. The running back with a bowling-ball-like style bashed and bruised his way into the hearts of Rams fans and left many salivating as to what he’ll be able to accomplish in a full season’s worth of work. Those fans were visibly shocked when offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer announced that the starting spot was open to competition—alluding to third-rounder Tre Mason. Fantasy football players in keeper leagues need not hold their breath though. As is custom this time of year, in order to make sure no starters are too comfortable resting on their laurels, some coaches are trying to create competition where there very clearly isn’t any. Cases like Stacy’s are hardly unique and are merely intended to keep players on their toes.
The New Orleans Saints and Graham appear to be no closer to getting a deal done as the debate about whether he’s a wide receiver or a tight end rages on. The star figure in New Orleans is still fighting for recognition as a receiver, which would grant him $5-million more on the franchise tag than he would receive as a tight end. While drafted as a tight end, Graham’s role in the Saints’ offence has been primarily to line up outside, and the numbers reflect it. Regardless of what the arbitrators decide, the Saints can ill-afford to lose one of the most dynamic weapons in the game, despite the prowess of Drew Brees to be able to even make a pylon a 1,000-yard receiver.
As a final note, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson has caught on with the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL in his swan song. His chances for a strong season though? Child, please.